(c) 2015, Andre’ DeCuir
Robbie sat on the overstuffed, floral-print sofa and rummaged through the small cardboard box on his lap. He took a swig from the bottle of beer on the coffee table, sighed, and leaned back. As he looked around at the chairs, the dining table, the pictures, the glass knick-knacks, he suddenly felt like all of the oxygen had been sucked out of the room. He could feel sweat forming on his forehead and under his arms even though the air conditioning was on and he was barefoot, in a t-shirt and shorts. He grabbed the box and the beer, exited to the front porch, and inhaled deeply. He dropped the box and sat on the porch steps and stretched his legs. He shifted his body and turned back to the house’s front door.
“Maybe I should just bulldoze the place,” he thought.
When he turned back to the yard, he jumped when he saw the tall, lanky figure standing in front of him, a man with locks of brown hair tucked behind his ears and dressed in a loose denim shirt, faded, torn jeans, and work boots.
“Tommy? Is that you.”
“Don’t get up Robbie. Sorry if I scared you. I just wanted to see how you were doing since there was the funeral today and all . . .”
“It’s okay. C’mon, we’ll go inside.”
“Oh no! That’s all right. It’s warm for spring, but it’s nice out here.”
Tommy was right about that. Robbie did always like where his grandmother’s house was situated—surrounded by cornfields with a good view of the evening sky and all its colors, blending into night.
Robbie immediately felt the heat from Tommy’s body when he sat next to him.
“I’d offer you a beer, but this is the only one left.”
“I’ll just have a sip of yours.”
Robbie studied the face of his visitor, and, not wanting to appear puzzled, smiled and handed him the bottle.
“I’m . . . uh . . . sorry about your grandmother, Robbie.”
“Thanks Tommy. Thanks for coming to the funeral.”
“Yeah, she was a nice lady.”
“I was trying to go through some of her things, but I just didn’t feel like doing it. I’ve got to though. I can’t stay around too long. Bills, work.”
“What are you going to do with the house?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think I want to sell it. I don’t think I want to rent it out either. No telling what kind of tenants I might get.”
“Yeah, they might trash the place.”
“I may just leave it as it is and used it as a getaway. She was the only family I had after Mama and Daddy got killed in that car accident. I always had her to come to on those family holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now she’s gone, but I still have this place to link me to her. It’s so quiet, so peaceful here.”
“I could keep an eye on the place while you’re gone.”
“Oh, that would be too much. You have farm and all to . . .”
“It would be no trouble. Anything to keep you coming to see us down here.”
“Us. Hey, I was sorry to hear about Mike passing.”
“I still can’t believe ya’ll lived as a couple in this town. Thing sure have changed.”
Tommy stood up and stretched.
“It wasn’t bad. I mean, no one ever said anything negative to our faces. And then when Mike was diagnosed with cancer, a lot of people came by offering to help, bringing us food and all. In fact, the talk of the town was never the queer couple from the country but Rosa LaMarche. She was supposedly seen riding around on her lawn mower without a top on and bottle of whiskey between her legs!”
“I was curious, so when I found myself driving by her house, I made it a point to have a look at her yard. Let’s just say that those paths left by the lawn mower weren’t as straight as usual.”
Robbie smiled, took a sip of beer, and held the bottle up. Tommy came up behind him for the bottle.
“You know, I was surprised when I found out about you,” said Robbie as he turned to find Tommy and rested his eyes on a pot of red geraniums.
“Why? Did you think ‘He’s too redneck to be queer’?” asked Tommy as he sat next Robbie again.
“Well . . . uh . . . yeah!”
“Hell, I have the biggest and best damn farm around. I drive around in a pick-truck, drink beer, and own guns. I’m a redneck like many in this town. I’m supposed to go around beating up queers—not being one.”
“You were one redneck who could turn me on just by leaning against the school lockers,” offered Robbie in a low voice. He quickly turned away, embarrassed by the boldness of his statement.
“Do I still turn you on?”
“Yeah. I had a big crush on you in high school. I thought you were straight
because . . .”
“Because I was a redneck?”
“I remember the afternoon of your parents’ funeral. I saw you walking down the road around our farm. You still had on the suit that you wore at the funeral. I guess you needed some time to yourself. When I saw you, I just wanted to run out and hold you and kiss you and kiss you forever.”
They both stood up, Tommy pulling up Robbie’s shirt, Robbie unbuttoning Tommy’s; their hot, damp skin smelling like the fields, the corn that grew just beyond the house.
As they closed their eyes and fell into each other, their hunger became part of the picture, the strange light of a darkening sky, a discarded white t-shirt, faded denim, red geraniums.
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Andre’ DeCuir is a southern writer who has been transplanted to the Midwest. He enjoys writing short fiction, poetry, and plays. His work has appeared in The Rose and Thorn Journal and Dialogual.
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